The Last of the Meaties are gone: Looking Forward

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by VA from WV, Oct 29, 2009.

  1. VA from WV

    VA from WV Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 26, 2009
    Eastern Pandhandle WV
    Finally took them to processing yesterday. It felt good to bring the experiment to a close.

    Count:
    Started with 41.
    Lost 1 to a miscount after a 'mass jail break'.
    Lost 6 to other issues.

    Observations:

    41 is too many for the methods we're using. We think that staggered runs of 25-30 at 4-6 week intervals will be more manageable. ie, Have birds in the brooder the last 2-3 weeks while other birds are being finished.

    Any task that requires physically handling birds increases labor. We need to look at how to do day-to-day, work-related operations with the birds so that handling isn't necessary.

    Need a source for food that is at least 10% cheaper than buying from Southern States. Possibly to work out a local coop to split a pallet.

    Need secure, portable/rolling daytime pens for pasturing the birds.

    Need to rebuild the composting area to deal with the volume of waste. Explore deep bedding. Especially need to find out how long chicken feces has to cook before it can be worm composted.

    There is possibly never enough ventilation.

    Laying birds pecking order problems benefit from a few weeks of clean living with Meaties who have no appreciable ego. Such birds return to the coop less likely to be an over-pecked bottom bird. Chanticleer's sickles are coming back now. [​IMG]

    The taste is superb when you grow it yourself.
     
  2. The Chicken People

    The Chicken People Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 4, 2009
    Smithville, Mo
    I am going to raise meaties next year so I am thankful for your post..I will stagger mine as you suggested! Also do they need roosts?
     
  3. VA from WV

    VA from WV Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 26, 2009
    Eastern Pandhandle WV
    Quote:There's a lot of little things I noticed through the process. My birds (YMMV) were not opposed to being confined and not prone to picking each other during confinement. They had an internal order of a sort, but the CornishX seems to be so docile that you could never quite tell who top bird was, and especially couldn't among the pullets. As these birds only live 38-45 days in industry, I suspect there is very little carnage in those 'big, roomy chicken houses'.

    The energy of the flock changed a lot when we pulled the cockerels for finishing in Mid-Sept, and the pullets were never especially excited or exciting thereafter.

    CornishX grow like Kudzu. Seriously. We watched birds double in size in a 24-48 period, once a week, and it was astonishing. Growth slows a LOT after 7-8 weeks. I had to remind Hubby that setting expectations about laying birds based on the meat bird experience was going to be a serious let-down.

    I am not using roosts, or rather, I am using roosts only for birds being housed with my meaties for self-esteem therapy. The meaties can hurt themselves if they do a lot of jumping around, so I've followed the prevailing wisdom about not roosting them. The companion problem with no roosts is that the birds are much more physically dirty(there's really nothing for it but changing the bedding a lot).
     
  4. spook

    spook Chillin' With My Peeps

    I too raised broilers this summer and the first batch of 25 came in May, the next batch of 25 came in June. Each batch I lost one chick and these live in a 6x8 ft space and at 4 weeks they have 2 feeders and 2 waterers in that space. No picking or crushing. I tried them on grass but they just did not have any interest.
    Plus cold and rain, foolish to leave them out. Only at 5 weeks, 6lbs each did they seem a little miffed at their "neighbors". So that was when I began processing them.... No, your cornish X do not need roosts, they probably would but it would probably cause blistering on their breast/Keel (right word there?). These birds need deep litter, stirred a few times a day to get full use of the litter. As they get heavier, deeper the litter. Now I'll suggest that if you have never done birds before, do 6-10 the first time, its time consuming unless you take them some where. I find that you kill your first one in the cone, when its drained, take that one out of the killing cone and get your 2nd one to kill while you are plucking etc. Now I drop my plucked birds with innards still in them into cold water (warm days) to help cool them down quicker, then go back after everyone or as many as I do in one day and clean them out.
    I do not soak mine in brine or anything, leave them in refrigerator for 2 days, bag and tag. I have never had a stringy bird, always tender and very tastey. It is a different flavor so don't go into eating them with "tastes like chicken" because these are what chickens should taste like!
     
  5. bigredfeather

    bigredfeather Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 1, 2008
    Yorkshire, Ohio
    Quote:All the hard work is worth it when you have a packed house at freezer camp

    Quote:That's a good idea. Only drawback is that the chicks will be more per chick w/ smaller quantity and more shipping cost per bird.

    Quote:One word, tractor.

    Quote:Try checking a local feedmill to see if they can custom mix your feed. I can get 50 pounds of 23% protein feed for around $7.50/50#. My minimum order is 500 pounds which goes quickly as the birds age.

    Quote:A tractor will make your life much easier.

    [​IMG]

    This one is 6'W x 10'L x 2'H. The hardwire cloth around the bottom is to prevent predators from digging under it. I have put up to 40 birds in at once. It doesn't get crowded at all until about week 7. It is a bit heavy though. I just built another one that is 5'Wx9'Lx2'H. Right now I have 28 7 week olds in it. It is a little crowded, but they only have a week to go. It is much lighter. I think I'm going to build another 5'x9' before next year. I figure I can easily do 100 at a time with the three tractors.

    Quote:Again, a tractor will fix this problem

    Quote:My birds can be seen soaking up sun and enjoying the fresh air in front of the wire part of the tractors all the time.

    Quote:You won't want to eat store bought chicken anymore. It tasted horrible in comparison. I have 63 of them to butcher next weekend, and I can't wait to have freezer camp full again.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2009
  6. Buster52

    Buster52 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 28, 2009
    Geronimo Oklahoma
    Bigred, I see you have both handles at the top and a chain at the bottom. Which do you use to move the tractor, and why do you have both?
     
  7. bigredfeather

    bigredfeather Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 1, 2008
    Yorkshire, Ohio
    Quote:I put the handles on first, thinking I could move it like that. Turns out, you have to stand too close to the tractor to move, and it was very difficult. So, I added the chain. I just haven't removed the handles. They will be relocated to two doors in the coop.
     
  8. andisgarden

    andisgarden Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 14, 2009
    BigRed, do you have a lot of loss when the weather turns bad. How do you combat the cold?

    Thanks,

    Andrea
     
  9. The Chicken People

    The Chicken People Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 4, 2009
    Smithville, Mo
    nice tractor
     
  10. bigredfeather

    bigredfeather Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 1, 2008
    Yorkshire, Ohio
    Quote:I haven't lost any due to bad weather. I have a tarp that I put over the wire sections of the tractor when the weather is cold and windy. I have actually started brooding them in the tractor. I put my current batch in there two days after I got them. I put a few heat lamps in it and tarped it as to not have any draft. It has worked great!

    [​IMG]

    It was great not having to worry about the stink and dander that goes along with having chicks brooding in the basement.
     

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